How to Pick the Best Eco-Friendly Hat Manufacturer


Custom branded hats are great for giveaways and for your staff or employees to wear. However, when made from “traditional” materials, they can be unfriendly to the environment.

We suggest finding an eco-friendly hat manufacturer for your custom branded sustainable hats. Here’s what you need to know about sustainable hats and how to choose the right one for your custom merch.

What makes a hat sustainable?

A sustainable hat is made from natural (not synthetic) materials or grown via natural and renewable processes. For example:

Organic Cotton

Cotton is a popular natural fibre in the textile industry as it offers breathability and soft texture in its fabrics. However, heavy water consumption and pesticides are often used in traditional cotton crops making standard cotton not eco-friendly.

Organic cotton is grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which help keep the soil around the cotton plants more fertile for future crops. It’s also higher quality than traditional cotton and doesn’t cause allergies or irritation. Recycled cotton is a newer product on the market that we are excited to utilize.

Recycled Polyester

Polyester is a resistant fabric popular in clothing. However, it’s not biodegradable and uses high amounts of energy and resources. Instead, recycled polyester is made from old plastic bottles ground down, melted, and spun into fibres creating a textile called rPET that is more eco-friendly than traditional polyester.

It uses 45% less energy than traditional polyester and is not reliant on non-renewable energy sources (such as oil) to produce it. As a result, it also creates less CO2 emissions compared to regular polyester.



What is traceability?

Many products claim to be eco-friendly, vegan, or sustainable, but not all are. Digital tracing technology helps manufacturers prove their sustainability promise.

The ability to trace fabric origins helps ensure you’re buying the right products. All reputable manufacturers of eco-hats and textile merchandise should be able to prove that their products are made sustainably.

Many clothing and textile products, including sustainable hats, are certified by the AWARE™ traceability system. This system scans and authenticates the recycled yarn to ensure the fibres are present in the final products. Here’s how it works:

  1. The manufacturer injects a tracer substance into the original fibres and registers original certifications in digital tokens on a blockchain.
  2. The manufacturer produces the textile.
  3. The finished textile can be scanned with a special device to determine its authenticity.
  4. The scanner matches digital tokens in blockchain to confirm certification and impact data.

Finished products with the AWARE hangtag are proven made from recycled origin. They can then be tracked throughout their whole lifecycle, even after being recycled into something else.

What’s the story behind your hat?

To verify the origin of your branded hats, you can scan a barcode or QR codes on the hangtags. It will tell you how your product is eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethically made, allowing your recipients to check and verify the sustainability of your merch.

Geo Bucket Hat
Geo Bucket Hat

What makes a branded hat ethical?

Once you know your hat is made from sustainable materials and processes, look deeper into their manufacturing processes and how they treat their workers and the environment to see how ethical the company is.

Ethically made hats are ones made by companies that reduce the negative impact of their business on people, animals, and the environment. It’s about choosing companies that care about their employees (through providing fair working conditions and wages) and their impact on the environment.

When looking at how ethical the hat manufacturer is, you need to look at their manufacturing processes to see if they are doing their part to minimize their adverse environmental impacts. Here are two eco-friendly manufacturing processes that we think are pretty cool:

E-dye technology

Also known as “dope dyeing,” this process colours fabrics with significantly less water. Traditional textile dyeing uses 100-150 litres of water per 1kg of textile. E-dye technology only uses about 11 litres of water.

In this process, colour pigments are applied directly to the melted plastics solution before the fibre is made (traditional processes dyes already spun fabric). As a result, the colour becomes part of the new, stronger yarn and is less susceptible to loss of colour during the wash.

This process uses:

We love the SKYE hat from Atlantis Headwear. It’s made from recycled polyester fabric (from about 2.5 recycled plastic bottles) that has been dyed using dope dying. The vibrancy of the colours and high-quality design and craftsmanship of this custom sustainable hat is spectacular.

Skye Hat from Atlantis Headwear
Skye Hat

Polylana® textiles

Polylana® fibres are a better alternative to acrylic and wool fibres in clothing and hats. When you compare the production impact of creating 1 kg of Polyana vs acrylic, Polyana uses:

Hats made from Polylana fibres save 5-9 litres of water per hat. For example, the Holly beanie from Atlantis Headwear saves 5 litres of water. It’s made from yarn that has been tested according to the OEKO-TEX 100 standard (class 5) for harmful substances to show the yarn is harmless to human and environmental health. From a branding perspective, it’s perfect for branded merch because it comes in a wide variety of colours, so you’ll likely be able to find your brand’s colour match.

Kid Yala by Atlantis Headwear - Showing product on people
Kid Yala Beanie

Types of custom sustainable hats

We’ve created an entire lookbook dedicated to sustainable hats from eco-friendly hat manufacturers. Each one is available for custom orders with your organization’s branding.

Check out the Custom Sustainable Hat Lookbooks now, or browse a few popular Spring and Summer hats below:

RECY FIVE (Baseball Cap)

This hat is made from 100% recycled polyester twill and saves 3.5 litres of water per hat produced. It features plenty of space to add your branded logo or messaging on the cap.

KID YALA (Beanie hat for kids)

This beanie for kids is made from organic cotton and is anallergic. It’s a new hat for this 2022 spring and summer season and features a rib-knit design made with a circular machine.

GEO (Bucket Hat)

The GEO bucket hat is the ultimate in classy, made from 100% recycled polyester. It fits lightly for a casual feel and is available in six neutral and natural colours for this season.

Rapper Recycled (Trucker Hat)

This hat is made from recycled plastic bottles. It features a curved visor with Atlantis Connect, an NFC contactless technology you can scan to read the characteristics and history of the materials used in this hat.

Are you ready to order your custom-branded hats?

Fairware only works with eco-friendly hat manufacturers. We can help you source the right hat for your needs, whether for your staff to wear at work, merch at a tradeshow or client gift basket.

Contact us today to pick the perfect, sustainable hats for your organization.